Tuesday, July 21, 2009

COAST Launches "Professor Harold Hill" Contest

COAST today launched the “Professor Harold Hill” contest to determine which local politician most resembles the fictional “Professor Harold Hill” from 1962 film “The Music Man.”

In the Music Man, Professor Harold Hill first imagined all sorts of pernicious consequences arising from a Pool Hall coming to River City, and then, of course, had just the solution to the self-created problem – musical instruments and band uniforms that he sold. In the end, after Hill collected his money – and seduced the local librarian, the uniforms and instruments never arrived, but the townspeople “felt better” about themselves.

Just like Professor Harold Hill, Cincinnati is being sold century-old solutions to its perceived transportation problems in the form of a 2012 “Trolley,” that will never be built. Mayor Mallory and a solid Council majority are backing the foolish plan that will drain needed financial resources from the City.

So, COAST poses the question to Cincinnati: Which local politico most resembles Professor Harold Hill, seducing the City with imaginary solutions to perceived community problems, fleecing the populace in the process?

Mayor Mark Mallory? Councilmember Chris Bortz? Cincinnatians for Progress? Donald Mooney? Jeff Berding? Parsons Brinkerhoff? Fred Craig?

COAST pushed out links to these two videos today promoting the contest:
Here is a video of the movie version of Prof. Hill in action.

This one is a Simpsons spoof of the Music Man. Substitute Cincinnati for Springfield, Portland for Shelbyville, and streetcar for monorail, and it's simply amazing how familiar this fraud looks. Except even in the spoof they planned to vote on it. Still, we need your help to cast the starring role.
Please let COAST know which politico you nominate for its new Prof. Harold Hill award!

“The Music Man” was written by Meredith Wilson. It won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1958 and was adapted into a film starring Robert Preston in 1962. The show is based on a story by Willson and Franklin Lacey. The plot concerns con man Harold Hill, who poses as a boys' band organizer and leader and sells band instruments and uniforms to naive townsfolk before skipping town with the cash. In River City, Iowa, prim Marian the librarian sees through him, but when Hill helps her younger brother, Marian begins to fall in love with Harold. Harold, in turn falling for Marian, risks being caught to win her.

In 1957, the show became a hit on
Broadway, winning five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and running for 1,375 performances. The cast album won the first Grammy Award for "Best Original Cast Album". The show's success led to revivals and a popular 1962 film adaptation. It is still frequently produced by both professional and amateur theater companies.


  1. .

    XXX judge Tryingtafoolyou !


  2. I would have to say either Chris Smitherman or Chris Finney.

  3. Finney gets my vote.

  4. "Substitute Cincinnati for Springfield, Portland for Shelbyville, and streetcar for monorail, and it's simply amazing how familiar this fraud looks..."

    It's nice you're trying to draw a parallel, but the Portland = Shelbyville thing doesn't work at all. Springfield has a rivalry with nearby Shelbyville, and wants to one-up them by getting a monorail first. On the other hand, Portland already has a successful streetcar system and no rivalry with Cincinnati. If anything a better substitute for Shelbyville would be Cleveland, although even Cleveland has RTA light rail.

    Furthermore, Harold Hill is a con-artist who plans to run off with their money without training the marching band. Unless you think one of our politicians is going to skip town, you have to admit they're just very misguided and therefore nothing like Hill. In fact, at the end of the musical the town has still paid for all the instruments and uniforms, but Hill sticks around to actually lead the band. So, basically... terrible metaphor, sorry.

  5. With the likelihood that his family will directly profit from this boondoggle, I've gotta go with Chris Bortz. Although the reality is, are any of the elected clowns smart enough to develop such a con? I mean other than commissioner benglhaus who really did cash in on the stadium scam.
    So, vote for current henry hill goes to Chris Bortz, Henry Hill emeritus, bedinghouse(sp?)

  6. I'd say Chris Smitherman's family would benefit way more from the streetcar being built than Bortz's would, my vote goes for Smitherman as well.

  7. Mayor Mallory and his magical choo choo express tour to Portland.

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  10. Bris, CAAST,
    See the "living room" rule above.

    We love spirited discussions as much as anyone, but pointless hate speech is not what this blog is about. The 2 offending remarks are herby deleted.

    Please start over and continue dazzling us with your usual cogent and relevant arguments. We'll be even more impressed if you can blast the other guy in a polite and genteel fashion.

  11. COAST, this contest is ridiculous. How in the world do you expect any of us to make a clear, educated judgement on who best resembles Harold Hill without providing any evidence as to the local politicians singing and dance abilities?

  12. Excellent point QCD!

    The other day when Berding was advocating for, then distancing himself from, the idea of licensing and taxing panhandlers, I swore I was actually watching this guy.

    "Ooooooooo, I like to dance a little side-step, now they see me, now they don't, I've come and gone."

    Who would have ever thought it would even be possible to raise taxes (P.O.ing conservatives) and disparrage downtrodden homeless people (P.O.ing liberals) all in the same move.

    Then he sung a slew of speciousness, and danced his way right out the door. He oughta be on Funniest Home Videos, not City Council.

  13. My point still stands that comparing anyone in Cincinnati politics to Harold Hill makes no sense if you actually know Harold Hill (or even the Simpsons' parody). I've explained it before so I don't need to do it again.

    However, another thought crossed my mind. You should have made the contest to around inept politician Adam West from Family Guy. Mayor West spent countless city funds on a project that no one wanted, then announced extreme budget cutbacks:

    That's what you're looking for. I hate to give ammunition (albeit weak) to COAST, but I can't stand a terrible or inaccurate metaphor.

  14. Leslie Ghiz - we can have a streetcar, and not lay off any police and fire, and give money The Freedom Center, and do all of that without raising taxes.

    (yes I know Ghiz claims she opposes the streetcar, but the fact is she voted for it and publicly opposes charter language that might keep it from being built)

  15. Todd Portune - the guy who has been desperately wanting to waste money on rail in Hamilton County for years now gets to sit back and watch other politicians take the lumps for pushing his crap.

  16. "we can have a streetcar, and not lay off any police and fire..."

    But don't transportation and police/fire come from different funds? So monies for the streetcar could never actually be used for officers or fire crew?

  17. Brad,
    We can dig into budget minutia if you want, but there's a fairly decent overview here.

    Most of the money the City takes in has strings attached. Water bill payments can only be spent on GCWW expenses, 0.1% of the 2.1% income tax can only be spent on maintenance of existing infrastructure, etc.

    Transportation is primarily a capital expense; and police/fire, being mostly salaries, are primarily operating expenses. Capital and operating funds are budgeted spearately. General and restricted funds are budgeted separately too. But the category pairs overlap.

    So the 2nd part of your question, "streetcar monies could never actually be used for officers or fire crew" would be true, IF THERE WERE EVER ANY MONIES BUDGETED FOR THE STREETCAR! Unfortunately there weren't. You can check the budget yourself here. You'll find an allocation for Blue Ash Airport sale proceeds to be used for Streetcar debt service, but nothing for the streetcar itself.

    However there is about $20 million of the city's $1.3 billion budget with the right sorts of strings that could allow it to be spent on the streetcar. But those funds are already spoken for.

    A more appropriate question would be, "which of our existing programs or services are we going to have to eliminate so that we can pay for the streetcar instead." So far the City's not saying.

  18. Mark,

    I'm not sure where you stand on the issue, but I don't think targeting me with the ALL CAPS BOLD (web-standard for yelling, and loudly) was appropriate. It actually sounds more like your comments should have been to Jamie, on whose assessment of the funding situation I was commenting. Either way, your wording could have been more civil.

  19. Brad -
    The plan as proposed estimates a $2 million plus operating deficit for the streetcar every single year. That money will have to come from somewhere in the budget, and it won't be capital funds. That's a big part of the problem. They're going to add $2 million every year to what is already a $28 million deficit.

  20. Bris,

    You think I don't know this already? Thanks for telling me what I know, I needed a reminder of that... jeeze... I'm never commenting on this blog again...

  21. Brad,
    You asked a question in your initial post. All I did was answer it. Blogs like this are about the exchange of different ideas. It's not your own personal sounding board on which nobody else can comment. Lighten up a little pal.

  22. "You asked a question in your initial post. All I did was answer it."

    No, it was clearly a rhetorical question responding to the previous statement.

    "Blogs like this are about the exchange of different ideas. It's not your own personal sounding board on which nobody else can comment."

    How would you even suggest that I think this is only a sounding board for my own personal ideas? I haven't even voiced any of my ideas on the streetcar, nor have I disputed any other ideas expressed! The only time I made a negative-leaning comment was when I suggested that the contest wasn't quite accurate.

    "Lighten up a little pal."


  23. Brad, I thought you said you were never commenting on this blog again.

  24. Anonymous,

    Sorry, I meant on this blog in future posts. I reserve the right to clarify or correct on comments I'd made in this thread.

  25. That's a shame Brad. We're really going to miss your charm and wit.

  26. "That's a shame Brad. We're really going to miss your charm and wit."

    Wow. The internet really is full of jerks.

  27. "Wow. The internet really is full of jerks."

    Welcome to the typical COAST conversation, quite an open minded group of blokes they are.

  28. Goodbye drama queen.


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